South Africa's thermal coal exports increased by 7% m-o-m to 5.02 million tonnes (mnt) in January 2023 as against 4.7 mnt in December.
Altered trade dynamics due to the Russia-Ukraine war continue to exert pressure on South African exports to European countries. In the short term there is no question that Europe will import more coal from the country to replace Russian coal. However, in the longer run it is expected that the main driver for Europe will be the desire to diversify energy sources.
Exports to European countries
qty in mnt
Within Europe, shipments to the Netherlands were the highest at 1.13 mnt last month, up more than two-fold m-o-m, followed by Italy at 0.35 mnt.
Exports to Asia
qty in mnt
South Africa recorded the highest exports to India at 1.17 mnt in January, down 6% against 1.24 mnt in December. Exports dropped amid higher domestic production and the Indian sponge iron sector using a blend of Australian, Russian and even domestic coal as raw material instead of just depending on South African coal.
Exports to Pakistan also recorded a significant drop as the country started sourcing more from its neighbouring countries like Afghanistan. However, there are signs of an economic crisis in Pakistan which is hurting demand.
However, in the case of Taiwan and China, South African coal shipments recorded a significant increase. This was mainly because Australian coal was being diverted to European countries.
South African coal exports may not witness any significant rise in the near term as the country has witnessed intensification of rail disruptions since the start of 2023. Disruptions have choked off over 50% of fuel deliveries from RBCT.